It’s a scary thought but a security alert surrounding Samsung’s Smart TV suggests hackers can get into the system and watch you.
ReVuln, which is a security firm based in Malta, says its experts have been able to gain access to the Korean giant’s device and look through its hard drives and connected drives for information.
The firm also claims it was able to gain “complete root access,” meaning it could install malicious software to monitor cameras and microphones.
ReVuln posted a video to show its researchers had learned to access settings, along with personal information stored on the television. The video appears to show ReVuln co-founder Luigi Auriemma accessing remote files and information including viewing history.
“At this point, the attacker has complete control over the device,” he said. “So we are talking about applying custom firmwares, spying on the victim if camera and microphone are available, stealing any credential and account stored on the device, using his own certificates when accessing https website and tracking any activity of the victim (movies, photos, music and websites seen) and so on. You become the TV.”
At present, ReVuln’s exploit only works once hackers have managed to breach the network the television is connected to.
But the possibility that your television could, in theory, put you at risk of identity theft or vulnerable to being watched is worrying as increasing numbers of consumer electronics are equipped with cameras, microphones and sensors.
Samsung’s Smart TV can be used to browse the internet, update social networks like Facebook and Twitter, buy movies and perform many other online tasks. While you may not think about your television being vulnerable to malware and hacking attacks, in reality, smart TVs are becoming more like PCs than the television sets we used to use.
Trey Ford, who is general manager of the Black Hat security group, commented: “We’re moving into a whole different world. Growing up, you and I didn’t have a wirelessly connected camera pointing at the couch.”
Samsung, however, insists its TVs are perfectly secure. A spokesman said: “We have discovered that only in extremely unusual circumstances, a connectivity issue arises between Samsung Smart TVs released in 2011 and other connected devices. We assure our customers that our Smart TVs are safe to use.
The firm said it would release a “previously scheduled software patch” in January in order to “further strengthen Smart TV security”. Samsung added: “We recommend our customers to use encrypted wireless access points when using connected devices.”
And so far, consumers don’t seem too worried, posting jokey comments on tech sites about the issue. One said: “Good God, a hacker could seize control of the telly ad change the channel – you might miss Corrie!!” Another posted: “If hackers want to see inside my lounge, they’re welcome. All that effort to watch a bloke in shorts clip his toenails? Good luck to them.”
But another said: “The beginning of the end, my friend knows a guy who worked with Microsoft and since his placement he never leaves his connect box on.”